Mr. Fortner, formerly managing director of functional foods at Nabisco, was recently awarded additional responsibility for Farley Fruit Snacks and Jet-Puffed Marshmallows -- obtained as part of Nabisco's acquisition of Favorite Brands last year -- as well as its condiment brands led by A1 and Grey Poupon. First on his agenda is strategizing to return Grey Poupon to the airwaves in 2001 and to restore ad spending against Farley and Jet-Puffed, which had been all but ignored at Favorite.
About 21/2 years ago, Nabisco pulled the long-running "Pardon Me?" TV campaign for Grey Poupon -- which a company spokesman admitted was popular but not effective in selling product -- in favor of a print effort that builds on the tagline while offering recipes. One of newer print executions, from FCB Worldwide, New York, asks, "Have you ever seen a chicken get a standing ovation? Grey Poupon and chicken. But of course."
The recipe effort has allowed Nabisco to zero in on heavy Grey Poupon users, people Mr. Fortner terms "creative cooks," in order to build volume. "One chicken equals 32 sandwiches and that's why it works so well for us," he said.
A RETURN TO TV
But to increase the brand's visibility, Nabisco is returning to TV and Mr. Fortner is not ruling out hearkening back to the heritage campaign for new TV ads in the works for next year -- albeit with a twist.
"It's a whole lot easier to remind people of an equity than to establish a new one," he said. "`Pardon me?,' `But of course' and the Rolls-Royce are already seeded, but [the new ads] would still need to link those equities to a product benefit."
Copy development is in the works for the new campaign at FCB. Nabisco spent $5.3 million on Grey Poupon advertising in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting, a budget that would certainly grow with a TV push.
In the meantime, the company is launching the first major advertising for Farley Fruit Snacks since the brand was assigned to FCB last March.
The TV spots, which break July 31, will run on Nickelodeon touting new shapes for Farley's Nickelodeon Fruit Snacks. The spots show the play value of the products for kids and feature onscreen characters from Nickelodeon programs including the title character from "SpongeBob Squarepants" and Eliza from "The Wild Thornberrys."
The effort is the first part of Nabisco's plan to "restore marketing in a big way for Farley with new advertising, new products and higher spending," Mr. Fortner said.
While Nabisco won't specify a budget, any increase is significant since measured spending on Farley was less than $1.3 million in 1999.
Mr. Fortner also plans to launch a new effort from FCB before Easter 2001 for Jet-Puffed, which received only $1.3 million in measured spending under its previous owner.
He also will raise the ad budget behind A1's successful new "Waiters" campaign from FCB.